Since January of this year, I have been taking Raja Yoga courses with Ananda.org in preparation to receive the yogic practice of Kriya later this year. Kriya itself simply means “technique” and refers to the actions one takes on the path of Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga pertains to the highest goal of yoga…self-realization. It is inclusive of all forms of yoga: absorption through meditation, bhakti or devotion, right action (including asana), and wisdom attainment through reflection and contemplation.
So on July 4th, a day that marks liberty in my homeland, I will be vowing discipleship to this beautiful yogic lineage and Paramahansa Yogananda, the one who brought Kriya yoga to the West. He’s no longer in physical body but very much alive in the beauty and refinement of his teachings and in his ability to deeply penetrate hearts and souls.
Discipleship? Will You Be Shaving Your Head? Moving to a Convent?
Taking discipleship vows is a commitment and is my way of affirming that I desire to follow God’s will and not my personal egoic will. It means that I am willing to open my heart to God and dissolve the self in that love. It means that I am committed to freeing myself from my attachments and the delusions of this world…however long it takes. It means I am asking for help. This lineage, specifically Yogananda, will be my trusted guide for as long as it may take. It doesn’t require head-shaving, Himalayan caves, tattoos, or passing out flowers at airports (though that could be fun)!
So You Worship This Yogananda Now?
Yogananda is not the object of my devotion, but a reminder of it. The devotion is to the Truth. All the glory is God’s.
Don’t You Want to Steer Your Own Destiny?
In the way the question implies, not really. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Dielle, who hates to be told what to do and what to think and who has spent lifetimes seeking happiness outside herself is ready now to align herself with something greater. Right from the beginning of my experiences with Ananda, I knew I had finally connected to a lineage of Masters that truly had the potential to lead me home. I’m not giving up anything…anything that I won’t lose someday anyway. I am gaining the real and eternal.
I want to be clear because I know there is a a lot of confusion out there about what a guru is and isn’t. The mantra “be your own guru” is a popular one, one I’ve chanted myself plenty of times, and that is indeed the aspiration. But just as a surgeon should learn from someone with experience before applying what he’s studied in books, the surest way to advance on the spiritual path of self-realization is to align with someone who has achieved it. One could attempt to make this journey without a guru, but how many lifetimes would it take? I prefer to walk in the footsteps of successful others.
I also want to explain that this isn’t some kind of savior complex. I am not redeemed by Yogananda. I am redeemed through my own energy, thoughts, and actions. Neither does this mean I cannot work with or benefit from other teachers or paths. It is simply a commitment to one set of practices for my personal practice. It is an agreement of trust. Part of my dharma in this life has been exploring many paths from many lands; now I find that everything coalesces harmoniously into this lineage.
To Share or Not to Share
This is a really important juncture in my life and one I debated whether to announce for many reasons. Will there be way too many misunderstanding or critisicms? Will I lose clients who fear I might start trying to get them to drink the cool-aid? Will people now expect me to be some perfected representation when I am all too human with my own shadows to conquer? I have a duty to myself to be transparent. And I sincerely want to declare the deeply personal impact this yogic lineage has had on me and my life and then prove it through how I live. That will take effort, discipline, practice and time. That will take yoga! All I can say is, I’ve known nothing so sweet as the energetic transmissions of Yogananda, and I’ve been blessed with some incredibly sweet teachers and experiences in my life.
So Are You All Religious Now?
To be clear, Kriya Yoga is not a religion. It’s really a practice, but the teachings do make reference to words that some might find difficult. I do! I still find myself triggered from time to time when a word or phrase reminds me of Catholic mass! Yogananda, in bringing Yoga to the West, did his utmost to make it accessible to the Christian faith. Of course, it isn’t really about the words. It’s about Truth, and words will always fall short. Even that word, God, is one easily adulterated by misunderstanding and/or misinterpretation. Infinite Spirit, Cosmic Heart, Source of All, Divine Mother & Father, Universal Intelligence… it’s all the same thing. How can one name the nameless? Albeit practical, the naming only creates the illusion of division among people and the stories we tell about the word keep us from seeing who and what we truly are.
I haven’t “joined a cult’, nor will I be doing any door-to-door conversions or anything even remotely that silly. But it will of course influence the way that I teach and certainly the type of energy I transmit to my family, friends, and yoga students. But I haven’t forgotten that there are many paths back to our True Nature, of course, and as long as each fulfills the person taking it, making him or her happier and more loving, that is reason alone to respect it.
Now the real work begins. Inward and Upward!
The Path of Kriya Yoga